Is The Scorpio A Hail Mary From Microsoft?

The short answer is: yes, but it’s one that is most promising. The Xbox One is well into its third year on the market and even though the console has a strong and dedicated following, the console is lagging behind its major competitor the PlayStation 4. The console itself boasts a hefty number of bells and whistles and a great backwards compatibility system, but is lacking in quality exclusive titles. With cancellations of highly anticipated games like Scalebound and Fable Legends, it’s no surprise that Xbox One consumers are a little worried at this point at the state of their exclusive gaming experience. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Xbox One S was just released in August of last year with mediocre sales.

Scalebound_1920x1080

This is where Microsoft’s new console, code-named Scorpio, comes in. Microsoft recently announced the specs of the Scorpio and it’s nothing to be laughed at boasting an impressive 12GB of GDDR5 RAM and a custom CPU and GPU. But why does this matter? According to Microsoft, it’s to win over developers. After seeing the initial stumble of the system and then the quick take off of the PS4, developers have found creating games for the PS4 to be easier and more beneficial. Microsoft hopes to change that with the Scorpio and honestly, I think they might be able to do it. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never been an Xbox fan and after briefly owning an Xbox One, I can’t imagine why I would purchase another Microsoft console with their wonky and clunky UI, unnecessary features and sparse library, but the Scorpio has me intrigued. They’re ditching the traditions we’ve expected of console generations. Instead of just releasing newer, slimmer and faster versions of the same product, they’re giving players a second a true and unique second option.

Scorpio Specs

Unfortunately, the announcement and the expected late 2017 release of the Scorpio does mean something else, Microsoft is desperate. It’s a little too familiar to something else that happened in the gaming world recently, namely the Nintendo Switch. The Wii U had a lot of similar problems to the Xbox One. I’m not going to say that the Xbox One is as bad off as the Wii U was because that certainly isn’t the case, but the correlations between the two are undeniable. The Wii U suffered for a couple years until its final breath this year with the release of the Switch and it looks like Microsoft is taking a page from Nintendo’s book. Instead of trying to salvage the current system which would take a huge amount of time and money, they’re betting all they have on one major attempt. The biggest things the Scorpio has going for it is that, unlike the Switch, it has a whole library of games from two previous generations to work with. Microsoft has announced the console will be able to play Xbox One and Xbox 360 games proving that their wonderful implementation of backwards compatibility won’t be leaving any time soon. But even with that and the new powerful specs of the Scorpio is that enough to pull in consumers and developers? I don’t know, but I’m optimistic.

 

Written by G. S. Martin

Advertisements

The Problems With Sequels to Beloved Franchises

Recently I’ve been playing through the first Dark Cloud for the first time in over a decade. I don’t remember much beyond the first couple worlds of the game, but the second game is engraved into my brain. It made me think about potential sequels to some of my beloved gaming franchises.  Where’s Dark Cloud 3? Where’s Black 2? Rune Factory 5? City Of Heroes 2? Condemned 3? TimeSplitters 4? Dear lord, just give me a TimeSplitters 4.

Now some of these have valid reasons for not existing such as Rune Factory 5 whose developer has gone out of business. But for games like TimeSplitters which is an IP that was purchased from Free Radical by Crytek, the makers of Crysis, you’d expect there would be a little more pressure put upon them for a true sequel. Sure, we’re supposedly getting a fan made remake of TimeSplitters called TimeSplitters Rewind sometime this year, but that’s not really the same thing, now is it? What makes things worse is when you check back on the history of Crytek’s comments regarding the TimeSplitters IP. It’s a wishy-washy mess of “there’s no interest” to “we’re definitely considering pursuing this, the fans want it” which just seems to make no sense.

TS_Rewind.jpg

It makes me think of games like Yooka-Laylee, a spiritual successor (a term I hate) to the incredible Banjo-Kazooie series. It’s a game born out of its fans and crowdsourcing. Doesn’t that show these big AAA companies potential ways of inquiring about interest? Doesn’t it show someone like Microsoft how stupid they are to have pinned Rare to Kinect games for so long?

BK_NutsandBolts.jpg

In reality the problems are much larger than they seem at surface level. From a business standpoint it almost seems like a giant missed opportunity, but it’s also a case of following trends, looking toward the future and realizing that while some games were great and/or revolutionary in the past, their formulas might not work in today’s gaming world. How much money do you want to spend in practically re-developing an entire IP? The rebirth of a franchise is a lot riskier than it seems. It’s an all or nothing attempt, so if you get it wrong, like Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, it could prove fatal to a whole brand. Who’s going to trust them to get it right the second time? Don’t you think we’ve experienced enough pain with Nuts and Bolts? Why would we let ourselves get hurt like that again? It leaves me torn between wanting a sequel to something I cherish and wanting to preserve the franchises’ legacy. Ultimately, is it worth the risk?

 

Written by G. S. Martin

Completely Biased: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid surprised me. From the art and the music to the premise and the characters I expected a typical slice of life comedy. MKDM turned out to be less comedic and more realistic. I don’t mean the dragons or anything, but in the way the creators told a story of the mundane. It gives you the chance to see how easily you can get used to something no matter how drastic of a change it may be to your world. But the best part? It’s the story of love and friendship that isn’t force-fed. You get to enjoy the little pleasures of Kobayashi’s and Tohru’s life together.

With any ensemble cast what matters most are the characters. All the characters are quirky enough for any commonplace anime comedy, but how the characters interact with each other is where the show really shines. The three main characters, Kobayashi, Tohru and Kanna, depict an idealistic concept of family. With Kobayashi and Tohru being the parents and Kanna playing the part of the daughter, the show has a lot of heartwarming stories about growing together and realizing that blood isn’t the only thing that makes you family.

kanna_mad.gif

Occasionally, the show will pull focus off of the main three and onto a side character, my favorite being Fafnir, a reclusive dragon who discovers the true enjoyment of gaming upon entering the human world. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid does a superb job of conveying the idea that every person has a place where they fit in and are accepted.

I would definitely recommend this anime to anyone who is a fan of heartwarming and amusing tales of humans and dragons or just for the reason that Kanna is by far the most adorable anime character I’ve been introduced to in quite some time.

Verdict: Must Experience!

 

Written by G. S. Martin

The Truly Abrasive Way

Hello there, I’m G. S. Martin, the creator of Truly Abrasive. I thought it would be nice of me to introduce myself to you all since you’ll be seeing a lot of posts of mine on here. Let me start by saying that I’m very glad you are reading this and I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to sharing your opinions with us here. I would like to explain a few key differences between us and other sites that talk about news in the gaming, anime, television or movie industry.

We are less of a news site and more of a site of opinions about the industries we work in and/or are passionate about. We have reviews like other sites of course, but they are “Completely Biased.” Not only is that true, but that’s also the name of those types of articles and videos! We like the idea of being honest. We don’t want you to think that other sites aren’t, of course. We just want you to know that these are solely the opinions of our writers and most the time we probably won’t agree with each other! For instance, I think Persona 4 is leagues better than Persona 3 and I’ve almost gotten into screaming matches with others about that subject. I have no problem expressing my opinion and neither will anyone else who writes for Truly Abrasive.

There’s also a nice little weekly discussion post called “Question of The Week.” Pretty on the nose, right? Anyway, that’s it for now. I just wanted to say hi, keep things informal for now and give you a short glimpse of what our site has to offer. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from each other again soon!

Thanks for visiting,

G. S. Martin

Question Of The Week: What Do We Do With Tutorials?

Tutorials in most games bother me, but none of them bother me as much as tutorials in JRPGs. Unfortunately, Persona 5 is no exception. Like everyone else, I’ve been waiting for Persona 5 for what feels like an eternity, so practically shoving the disc into my system was a no-brainer for me when I finally got my grubby little hands on it. I was met with hours long of hand holding. I suppose one could argue that considering a main entry in the Persona series hasn’t been released since Persona 4 in 2008 and Persona 4: Golden for the Vita in 2012 that Atlus wanted to give both old and new players of the franchise an easy way to settle in. The only problem with a process like that is it makes the story and the game feel like they’re dragging. It made me realize how often I’m hit with a problem like this: a sense of struggle to get to the good parts of a game.

Coincidentally, on the same day Persona 5 was released, Drawn To Death was put online as one of PlayStation’s free games with PS Plus and I ran into the same exact problem. For a game that’s all about being fast, hectic and crazy, the idea of a mind-numbingly boring tutorial seems counter intuitive. The real problem with Drawn To Death’s tutorial system is that it doesn’t stop after the section they labeled as a tutorial, it continues on for a few online matches as well. The developers had this uncontrollable urge to explain every single detail to their audience. It makes the experience stutter.

Amidst all this tutorial hell another game seemed to pull away from this pattern and was met with a lot of critical praise. I am of course talking about The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. The game abandons almost all ideas of a tutorial. It gives you a few tips for how to use a power here and there, but everything else from the story to the gameplay is completely up to you to figure out and experience on your own. It’s made me wonder. Is this the right way to do a tutorial or is it simply situational? Do developers really think players are too stupid to figure out what the X button does on their own or are they just afraid they’ve made a game that’s so complex in its mechanics that everything needs to be explained? What exactly should we be doing with tutorials?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

 

Written by G. S. Martin